On Sunday, there was an open house at the Lyric and the Alabama Theatre in B’ham. The Lyric has been in poor condition for decades, and was recently listed as one of the 2009 ‘Places in Peril’ just like Hobson City which we visited recently.
When it was constructed in 1914, the Lyric Theatre was the largest theatre in Birmingham. The biggest names in Vaudeville performed here, including Buster Keaton, Sophie Tucker, Will Rodgers, Mae West and the Marx brothers. The building displayed classical elements on the exterior, and wowed its audience with an amazing interior, replete with hand-painted murals and decorations.—
A step inside the theater reveals an ornate space including a white Alabama marble lobby and monumental staircase, and a large proscenium mural, “Allegory of the Muses,” painted by Harry Hayden Hawkins, a Birmingham designer who studied under the famous artist, John Singer Sargent. Plaster mythological figures also adorn the boxed seats and are seen in various forms throughout the theatre. The original painted stage curtain also remains intact with the word “Asbestos” (to presumably assure the audience that the curtain was “fireproof”) inscribed across the center.